Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Contrasts and surprises

I am surprised to find myself quoting The Archbishop of Canterbury who this morning described 2013 as ‘…a year of contrasts’.  Whilst as a general rule I do not hold dear the words of the Archbishop, this phrase describes perfectly how I feel about the past year.

There were some challenges….  a shaky start to the year with my Dad being seriously ill - he recovered, we moved on.  A family gathering during which a relatively small incident threatened the future of important relationships - we talked, we moved on.  A new job that in theory appeared  to be a ‘great fit ‘ for me brought the realisation that sometimes the things that 'should' ‘fit’ don’t always suit us as much as we may think they will.  Inconclusive medical investigations brought relief mixed with frustration, leaving behind unresolved health niggles.  The addressing of our work-life balance: a reduction in working commitments, later brought the reluctant acknowledgement that sometimes less stress can be accompanied by less fulfilment.  Feelings of sadness at the drifting of previously close friendships.

There were some real highs… a wonderful Springtime weekend away with good friends who became even better friends.  We sold a house and in turn felt a release from the related stress that had hounded us for too long.  A week in Southern Italy provided family adventures in much needed warm sunshine.  Two family holiday weeks in two different parts of Wales, previously unexplored by us, gave us lots of fun, laughter, and ice-cream!  A reunion with old friends reminded me of happy times gone by.  Listening to live music on a balmy cider-fuelled Summers evening.  Chatter and laughter with close friends over fine food and bubble-filled wine.  Completing the half-marathon ‘Memory Walk’ in aid of the Alzheimer's Society.  Seeking out new experiences and taking pleasure from the everyday.
In between the highs and lows…The Husband survived the second year of his return to Uni and has moved in to the final year of his Radiography Degree.  The Ten Year Old moved in to Year 5 of Primary school and remained generally unimpressed by the routine of the school day whilst getting increasing amounts of joy from his love of football and through joining a local Cricket team.  The Two Year Old found his voice and became increasingly loving and entertaining.  And me?  I struggled with low levels of energy and enthusiasm and felt a bit ‘lost’.  Overall, between the light and shade, the middle ground failed to inspire as much as it could have done and I strongly suspect I wasn’t always a lot of fun to be around.

I wonder what 2014 has in store for us?  I want to believe that I will grab hold of it and shake every last drop of experience it offers.  But for now, nursing the aftermath of the inevitable Christmas cold, I sit cradling a cup of tea, hibernating from the New Year’s Day wind and rain – reflective in thought and grateful for the warmth of the fire and for the company of my family who keep me smiling even when times feel tough.

In wishing you all a Happy New Year, I leave you with something lovely that a friend posted today on Facebook:
How will you surprise yourself this year?